Rock climbers start their climb not knowing how they will finish. Micah Winkle and his family didn’t know what life would bring when the 9-year-old was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in 2015.
Doctors at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital removed a tumor and surrounding tissue from his left leg. They were able to preserve the leg, but Micah could no longer take part in contact sports. His leg wasn’t strong enough to take the impact.
Micah tried other sports that did not involve physical contact such as archery and golf. Later he met the owner of a rock-climbing gym at a St. Jude fundraising event. He invited Micah and his family to try rock-climbing.
“Once he got into the gym, we saw healing—I mean physical healing but then also emotional healing for him,” Micah’s father, Jason, said. “He began to blossom and thrive again.”
Micah won the U.S. national paraclimbing championships in 2021 and 2022. He competed in the world championships in Moscow, Russia, placing 7th.
“I was crazy scrawny, this twig of a kid,” Micah said. “I started climbing and built more body mass. I was not good at all when I started out. As you continue climbing, you continue getting better. For a new climber, the best way to push yourself and get better is to climb everything. The more you climb, the more you learn.”